D.C. Public Schools students are used to doing without certain resources, but students at Bell Multicultural High School and Lincoln Middle School yesterday did without a rather essential one: water. A water line break left the schools with minimal running water starting in the mid-morning. Students were kept in class during the outage.

The two schools, together the “Columbia Heights Education Campus,” are among the newest facilities in the school system. Without working toilets, students were escorted by administrators, teachers, and security guards to use restrooms at the nearby Target and Capital City Charter School.

Candi Peterson, a school counselor (not at Bell or Lincoln) and union activist, blogged about the incident this morning, and Jennifer Calloway, a DCPS spokesperson, confirms this afternoon that there was a “major inconvenience” for the schools.

Calloway explains in an e-mail that “protecting valuable instruction time and the lack of notice for parents to arrange alternative childcare prompted our decision to keep school open.” Everything, she reports, is back to normal today.

Peterson complains that “[d]espite not having…optimal sanitary conditions, lunch was still served to students on schedule which was a cause for alarm for some especially given recent outbreaks of the swine flu and other potential viruses.” Calloway says that because “food was already prepared before the water was turned off, sanitation protocol was not affected.”

“Our first priority,” she writes, “is always the safety and well-being of our students.”